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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers’ perspectives of giftedness among students who are deaf or hard of hearing Bibby, Mary Ann W.


This qualitative, exploratory study describes and interprets the perspectives of giftedness of twelve teachers who work with Deaf and hard of hearing students in a variety of educational settings across Canada. Using in-depth interviews, the resulting twenty-five hours of audio tapes were transcribed and analyzed line by line using procedures suggested by Giorgi and Marton. The supporting literature came from four major areas: (a) the construct of giftedness; (b) giftedness among the disabled population; (c) giftedness among the Deaf and hard of hearing population; and (d) theory related to teachers' knowledge and perspectives. Analysis of the data resulted in presentation of the findings from two perspectives: teachers' understandings of the meanings of giftedness and the process through which these teachers appeared to have gained their knowledge. Teachers' practical knowledge was portrayed in detailed stories of forty-three hard of hearing or Deaf students whom they believed to be gifted and in the way they described the students' achieving, learning and behaving in classroom interactions. The teachers' conceptually oriented knowledge was described as they reflected upon the meanings they associated with giftedness. The teachers' knowledge of giftedness was compared to that found in the gifted literature at both the practical and theoretical levels. Through interpretations derived from daily interactions with students and drawing on knowledge gained from personal experience, these teachers constructed perspectives of giftedness. The process that emerged illustrated the teachers' use of comparison groups as ways of gaining insight about the students and teachers' ideas about the use of labeling. The teachers' perspectives suggest that Deaf and hard of hearing students are gifted in ways similar but not identical to hearing students. The abilities of these students appear to be different from others in the "handicapped-gifted" literature and their needs are unique. The teachers' more conceptually oriented ideas also appeared to be similar but not identical to theoretical definitions of giftedness. The findings support collaboration between teachers and researchers to explore ways in which teachers come to recognize and understand gifted students. Future research must also explore the special educational needs of students who are dealing with the effects of having a hearing loss and being gifted.

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